One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.


Sunday, June 28, 2009


The next step in Daley's Olympic Quest is the city's acquisition of the Michael Reese Hospital for the Olympic Village. Think Chicago taxpayers aren't going to pay for the Olympics? Think again. Daley's reaching into his big bag o' TIF money for this very special occasion. Yep, that's right. Your property tax dollars.

Though some have questioned the risks involved with this deal, the first domino falls this week: With Michael Reese Deal, Chicago will Commit Money to 2016 Olympics Bid
Chicago taxpayers will be locked into the city's first financial commitment related to its 2016 Olympic bid on Tuesday if the scheduled closing on the $86 million purchase of the Michael Reese Hospital site goes as planned.

This foray into large-scale real estate development comes three months before the host-city selection. The International Olympic Committee will choose between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo on Oct. 2.

The acquisition of the Olympic Village site carries substantial risks, given the moribund state of the credit markets, which has created wrenching problems for Vancouver and London. Both cities have had to bail out their respective Olympic Village projects, which, like Chicago's, were supposed to have been privately financed.

And for Chicago, those struggling projects hover like specters, raising any number of questions. Will the lending spigot have opened sufficiently by 2012, when work is slated to begin? Will the city's glut of new housing units have been absorbed by then? Will Chicagoans line up for condos and rental apartments that won't be available until 2016, and only after they have been crash pads for several weeks for about 16,000 visiting athletes and coaches?
Nevermind the risks, city officials are optimistic and Daley said so. And so we forge on. Don't worry, if it doesn't work out, us taxpayers can always pick up the bill. Happy to do it, Dick, happy to do it. (kisses rings)

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